4.1.2 Transfer of Louisiana Territory at
Transfer of the Louisiana Territory at New Orleans, 1803, from the National Collotype Company/ Courtesy of Archive World / Alamy Stock Photo.



In 1800, Spain signed a secret treaty returning the territory of Louisiana to France. Rumor of the territory’s retrocession soon reached President Thomas Jefferson, who feared that France would not recognize American rights to navigate the Mississippi and trade goods at New Orleans.

In 1802, Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to Paris to negotiate the purchase of the port of New Orleans from the French Emperor Napoleon.

The Lousiana Purchase

     Napoleon originally envisaged Louisiana and his other colony, Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), to be the centerpieces of a French New World empire. When the enslaved people of Saint-Domingue won their independence in a bloody revolutionary war, Napoleon no longer needed the Louisiana Territory, meant to supply the Caribbean colonies, but greatly needed to refill his war coffers. In 1803, he surprised American emissaries by agreeing to sell not only the port of New Orleans, but all of Louisiana to the United States for $15 million. The Louisiana Purchase was one of the most significant events in American history, as the new territory nearly doubled the size of the United States.

Daniel Boone

American pioneer Daniel Boone famously led explorations that helped to open the American frontier to new settlements. In 1799, Boone and his family migrated to the Femme Osage District of Missouri, now part of St. Charles, where he spent the remainder of his life. His sons, Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, developed one of the major salt springs in present-day Boonville into a salt-making business.

Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, 1820. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

It does appear as if all Kentucky are on the road for the country [in Missouri].

~ Observer, 1816

The Missouri Territory

By 1804, the land that became the Missouri Territory had an estimated 17,188 inhabitants. In just sixteen years, that number would grow to more than 71,000. Both the French and the Spanish had utilized slavery in colonial Missouri, as had the Natives before them, but westward-moving Americans expanded and entrenched the system in the new federal territory.

After the War of 1812, migrants from the United States poured into the Missouri Territory, tripling the non-Native American population. Thousands of enslaved African American workers were forced to move too, either with their owners or by means of the growing domestic slave trade.

Frequently hailing from eastern tobacco-growing states, such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, these newcomers displaced Native peoples and claimed additional lands. As one observer wrote in 1816, “it does appear as if all Kentucky are on the road for the country” in Missouri.

missouri population chart (1).jpg

"Missouri Population, 1804-1820," This chart is based on population estimates form the Offical Manual of the State of Missouri, 1973-1974, and "Populating Missouri, 1804-1821" by Walter A. Schroeder. Information is obtained from limited data.

*The population of enslaved and freed African Americans in 1804 is unknown. **Estimated Native American population.

Boon's Lick

Many of Missouri’s migrant slave owners settled in the central part of territorial Missouri along the Missouri River, called the “Boon’s Lick” because of the salt springs in the area. Fertile lands and river access to markets in St. Louis made this area prosperous for slave owners and one of the most important agricultural regions in the state before the Civil War.

5.2.2 Flatboat Men.jpg

Flatboat Men Relaxing on their Cargo by Alexander Anderson, ca. 1820. Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

Did you know?

Beer making has been nearly synonymous with St. Louis since its founding. The first documented brewery was opened in 1809 by John Coons on what is today the site of the Gateway Arch.